I have ALWAYS been told that I shouldn’t see my fiance before the ceremony on the day of the wedding. My photographer wants us to do a “1st look” and my family is totally freaking me out about it. What should I do?

This one is extremely easy for me to answer, but I’m not sure it’s the answer you’re looking for.

The answer is you should do whatever YOU want!

I know that might seem like a cop out, but it’s the absolute truth. The fact is that the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride before the ceremony is simply a superstition. It’s no different than a black cat crossing your path, 7 years bad luck for breaking a mirror, or walking under a ladder. My grandmother told me when I was young that if she swept under my feet that I would never be married. I MADE her do it and somehow I STILL landed the Mrs. I must have game. :)

From the research I’ve done, the tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding is far less romantic than it would appear. The origin seems to trace back to the days of arranged marriages. Fathers would arrange a marriage for his daughter to a wealthy family in hopes of increasing their families status and wealth. In fear that the groom might back out of the arrangement, the groom would not lay eyes on the bride until her veil was raised for the first kiss!

Over time this procedure morphed its way into what we see as common place today. Of course, what’s common depends on where you live I guess. In most places the bride and groom simply can’t see each other from midnight the night before until the ceremony. Some feel the groom shouldn’t see the bride until the alter, others until the veil is raised. For the most part everyone seems to follow the guideline that the groom cannot see the dress early under any circumstances.

Regardless of your tradition, if the tradition makes your day go smoother then by all means follow it. By no means should you change your desire on YOUR wedding day because of what the photographer, your family, or anyone else for that mater wants.

Some photographers put in their contract that they will ONLY shoot weddings that do the “1st look” before the wedding. We don’t go that far, but we do prefer it.


I prefer the “1st look” for 2 reasons. The first is out of selfishness as a photographer. The “1st look” gives us a chance for not only better images of the bride and groom’s precious time together upon seeing each other for the 1st time in their wedding attire, but it changes the timeline tremendously.  As opposed to trying to squeeze in all the family formals, the bride and groom’s portraits, and everything else in a mad dash to get the reception started, we get to set aside an hour or 2 before the ceremony to really take the time to get it right. Not just get it right, but get it right without rushing and stressing.

My second reason I really prefer the “1st look” is that I think it’s a better experience for the bride and groom. When a groom sees his bride coming down the aisle it’s powerful. It’s not powerful because she’s coming down the aisle, it’s powerful because she’s stunning in her wedding gown and seeing each other is that moment where it becomes very real. The nerves seem to wash away and everything is perfect.  So why wait all day and have this moment where you can’t interact because of the ceremony itself?

In the 1st look the 2 of you are alone, with your photographer, and you get too have that moment with each other. You see each other, you make the day real, and you release all of the stress and anxiety. Our style allows us to capture this moment up close, but then move further and further away until you are alone. The 2 of you talk, laugh, cry, and anything else you feel like sharing.

In my experience, everyone is happy go lucky and stress free after that moment. Then we get to taking care of the formal pictures and rocking out some fabulous portraits! Then when the ceremony ends, we can all make our way to the reception with little to no delay.

Now I have to be honest in the moment of full disclosure…when my wife and I married we waited to see each other. It was a wonderful moment seeing her walk down the aisle for the 1st time. That is why I never try and convince or force my couples in any way. However, I will say that knowing what I do now I might have opted for the 1st look myself.

If you’ve got a question you’d love to see answered, please send it in.